Emirates A350 order may mean no A330neos and an end to the 777-8.

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More details have come out to clarify what exactly the A350 order from Emirates means.

Firstly its a direct swap for the cancelled A380 order for 39 aircraft. Airbus and Emirates are now saying “the A330neo wasn’t part of this discussion” – and in effect Emirates haven’t said they’ll carry on with them and Airbus don’t know either.

The reason seems to be that in a post-A380 world, and with what they now feel are too many 777-8/9’s on order, the A330neos may form part of the flexible fleet adjustment as the company cuts back on the bigger aircraft and moves down to a more flexible fleet.

Those discussions are far from over and will involve Boeing. So, while technically the A330neo’s are still on the order book, in the end they may be place holders for none, or more!

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An entire fleet of 777-300Er’s needs replacing

The 50 A350’s – a firm order – will be delivered from 2023-28.

From Boeing’s perspective this is looking worrying. There are 40 787-10’s on provisional order, 115 777-9’s and 35 777-8’s.

Emirates is said to be looking at dropping the whole 35 777-8 order and reducing the 777-9’s. With Boeing having suspended development of the 777-8 indefinitely it may as well have signed its death warrant – Qatar is also looking at dropping the 10 it has on order – which covers off the whole order book for the variant.

Emirates are going to make or break one of these projects – the A339 is fine, its the 777-8 that looks like its in most danger.

And this is even more of an issue for the other elephant in the room: what happens if the 797-X moves ahead or is dropped? That could have serious implications for both sides. I’ve seen several in depth analysis from consultants that so far have remained private, suggesting the 797-X needs to be killed off and soon, if the 787 and the 777-9 are to have any long term meaningful success past the mind 2020’s. They’d rather see Boeing replace the 737 with something new and beat Airbus into the next generation of single aisles.